There is no doubt that any entrepreneur can benefit from engaging with business advisors provided they come with the level of skills, expertise and qualifications that will get the job done. However, you must be wary when selecting an advisor. Ensure you get the value and return on investment (ROI) that you expected. They should typically belong to some sort of regulatory body. This will give you some level of comfort that they function at the appropriate level of competence and professionalism.
In my experience one of the success factors to ensuring a business achieves sustainable growth is a solid working relationship with your business advisor/s. A relationship of mutual trust and confidence is usually built up and over time becomes a proper partnership. This will result in you and your business advisor successfully navigating the changing business landscape.
Considerations in selecting a business advisor
- Understand your professional advisors.
- Are they a member of a professional membership body?
- Know what their background and experience is?
- Match their skill set with your needs.
- Be clear on who the business advisor is meant to provide a service to.
- Most advisors will want the scope to be clear but will be open to discussing further work that you may require as the relationship and understanding develops.
- Know what advice or field you require advice on.
- Your relationship will evolve over time as your business needs change so request flexibility and open communication.
- Consider your own characteristics and ways of working when selecting a business advisor as they also come with their own approach.
- Select an advisor who is prepared to tell you what you need to hear and not what he/she thinks you want to hear.
- Communication during selection and engagement will lead to the minimizing of any misalignment.
- Be clear on the terms and conditions of the engagement and the responsibility that the advisor has to you and the responsibility you have to the advisor.
- An example could be data that you need to provide to the advisor within a specific period of time to enable him/her to conduct their analysis.
- Ensure the person you choose has a vast network of other specialist advisors that they can call on should the need arise. Understand the range of services they can provide.
- I would be very wary if an advisor told you they could advise you on ALL aspects of your business.
- Speak to the advisor to ensure that there is knowledge transfer to yourself or whomever else you identify.
- No doubt there is plenty of information available on ‘google’ but there is no substitute for an experienced individual transferring tailor-made knowledge and solutions which you can use practically.
- Discuss the financial aspects of the agreement
- Agree on the advisory rates.
- Discuss the availability of the advisor & lead time to revert on requests.
- Discuss and agree a terms & conditions around payment terms.
- How to handle scope changes as you don’t want to be surprised with a higher than expected invoice?
- Discuss the time period for which you require the services.
- Is it for a specific project or is it a longer-term retainer type of agreement?
The reality is that it is tough trying to contemplate any business not benefiting from acquiring the right type of business advice. In my experience, I find that this is especially true for family owned and entrepreneurial owners of SMME’s. Their businesses may have grown but their knowledge base, people and systems have not kept pace.
Having the right business advisor will enable the business owner to adapt to the ever-changing global market. Based on the premise of “We sometimes don’t know what we don’t know” and the current challenges (Changing environment and covid-19), I encourage you to look at engaging with an advisor who will support you in navigating the path ahead.
Dr Kenneth Moodley is an experienced supply chain and business professional with over 25 years’ experience. He has a demonstrated history of working with both big corporates (example: Unilever & The South African Breweries) and SMME’s (Productivity SA) in various industry sectors as a senior Supply Chain Specialist, Leader and Business Coach.